CLEARFIELD – The American Association of University Women: Books-Sandwiched-In 2014 series continued with Dr. Edward Dionne Jr.’s review of his book Warm Hearts for Cold Noses: Unusual Tails of a Young Veterinarian at Joseph & Elizabeth Shaw Public Library. Dionne’s entertaining presentation of humorous animal stories had the audience continually laughing during the event.
Donna Tubbs opened the presentation by introducing the audience to Dionne. According to Tubbs, the experiences of a young veterinarian sounded like a great idea for an AAUW BSI presentation. Dionne, who has a doctorate in veterinary medicine, stated there was no better place to discuss a book than in a library.
Dionne began by introducing himself and how he came to write Warm Hearts for Cold Noses. He first attended school at Penn State in 1961, where he met his future wife. In his fourth year of veterinary school at the University of Pennsylvania, Dionne, whose interest was in small animals, faced a veterinary school requirement of spending six months in a facility that focused on large animals.
After graduation from veterinary school, the presenter needed a job and more experience. He took a position in New Jersey in a large practice with five to six vets on staff.
As “low man on the totem pole,” Dionne was told he would be the perfect fit to take care of the unusual animals. He says that he objected to the appointment due to his lack of expertise with these types of animals. However, it is the experiences with the unusual animals that led to Dionne’s stories and, ultimately, his book.
Early in his career, the speaker attended a veterinary conference, where he listened to author and speaker James Herriot. Herriot informed the attendees that they should write down their cases, particularly the unusual ones. Dionne said that his children begged him to write stories, and others convinced him to compile these stories into a book. With the help and support of his family, Dionne’s book was illustrated, published and a Web site was created.
Warm Hearts for Cold Noses is full of heartwarming stories of some unique animals. The author shares information about Eggbert, the turtle with a cracked shell; Ziggy, the skunk that had to be de-scented and eventually got lost; Squeaky, the mouse with an injured eye that had to be removed; Rachel, the raccoon that did not want to be spayed; and Cleopatra, a cat that did not like anybody except, ironically, for a goldfish.
Dionne then shared a story with the audience of a special parrot named Salty. One day, while reviewing his daily list of patients, he noticed that a parrot on the list was only identified as “a sick, sick bird.” With little background information, Dionne entered the exam room to find what he believed to be a bird that looked healthy.
The veterinarian described the bird’s owner, however, as wringing her hands, pacing the room and looking like a nervous wreck. After some prying, Dionne finally was informed that Salty had a swearing problem.
According to Dionne, Salty uttered a curse “loudly and with perfect diction.” After reprimanding the bird, Salty countered with a worse expletive that Dionne felt was too graphic for a book he wanted his grandchildren to read. The embarrassed owner put her hands over her ears, and Dionne asked how such a nice lady came to own a foul-mouthed bird.
The owner explained that she had inherited the bird from her brother, a man named Frank, who kept Salty at the saloon he owned. The bar patrons taught Salty to curse and offered him sips of beer when he did it successfully. Not knowing any of this information, the owner invited her church group over to meet the bird. As the crowd grew bigger, so did Salty’s language and volume.
The humiliated owner begged Dionne to help. The presenter’s first thought was to wash Salty’s mouth out with soap, but since it did not work on him as a child, he decided to scratch the idea. He knew he could not let Salty fly away.
He decided to get a second opinion from a colleague at Cornell, but this veterinarian merely laughed and said he had never heard of such a thing. Dionne said he slept little, worrying about what advice he would offer Salty’s owner. Finally, he thought that since birds are taught through repetition, the owner might try to reprogram Salty with recorded audio.
Three months later, the owner happily reported that while Salty could not sing, he did know the words to a popular group at the time, the Beatles. In the background, Dionne recalls hearing the parrot say, “Salty Loves You – Ya Ya Ya!” The engaged audience laughed repeatedly throughout Dionne’s humorous story of Salty the parrot.
Warm Hearts for Cold Noses features other short, comical stories of unusual animals. Dionne states that all the stories are true, though he did change names. He concluded his presentation by acknowledging that pets really are members of a family.
To emphasize his point, he shared a quote from Will Rogers: “If there are no dogs in heaven, then when I die I want to go where they went.” Audience members were offered the option to purchase a copy of his book, and, he added, he was willing to email additional stories to people as a thank you.
Warm Hearts for Cold Noses: Unusual Tails of a Young Veterinarian will be available for checkout or hold at Shaw Public Library in the coming weeks.
AAUW member Gwen Fox said people wanted to attend the “veterinarian” presentation, and she believes it greatly lived up to people’s expectations. She reminded people to attend the next presentation in the BSI series. Author and presenter Kenneth Womack will discuss his book, The Restaurant at the End of the World.
Similar to Dionne’s presentation, Womack’s book is full of short stories. Each story is connected to the events from Sept. 11, 2001 in a restaurant on top of the World Trade Center. The presentation will be held at 7 p.m. and features cake and punch. Registration is encouraged, but not required.
Reservations for the next AAUW: Books-Sandwiched-In program may be placed by visiting the front desk of Shaw Public Library or by calling 814-765-3271.
The library is open Mondays, Wednesdays, and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m., Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10 a.m. until 9 p.m., and Fridays from 12 p.m. until 5 p.m. Additional information may also be found on Shaw Public Library’s Web site at http://www.clearfield.org/shaw.